Aug 28, 2012 01:15 PM EDT

Cadillac To Outshine BMW and Mercedes In Future


(Reuters) - General Motors Co's (GM.N) top executive for Cadillac said the brand should be challenging foreign automakers for the top spot in U.S. luxury auto sales within a couple of years.

Don Butler, vice president of marketing for Cadillac, told reporters on Tuesday that sales for the brand should be double what they were in 2010 "within a couple years."

Cadillac's U.S. sales in 2010 were about 147,000 vehicles.

U.S. sales of the luxury brand rose 3.7 percent in 2011 to about 153,000, or 63 percent of the sales of luxury leader Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMWG.DE), or BMW.

Through July this year, Cadillac U.S. sales were down 12.6 percent from a year earlier to 76,229, according to Autodata Corp.

GM expects to boost sales in large part due to the appeal of its soon-to-be-introduced ATS model, which is smaller that most previous Cadillac offerings. GM sees the ATS as a challenger to BMW's 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-class cars.

The ATS is Cadillac's first attempt at making a small luxury car since its much-maligned Cimarron in the 1980s.

The ATS is one of 10 all-new or significantly refreshed products that Cadillac will introduce in the next three years, Butler told reporters in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, Michigan, on Tuesday.

In 2011, German carmakers led the lucrative U.S. luxury market after Toyota Motor Corp's (7203.T) Lexus brand had been champion for 11 straight years.

BMW took the top spot last year at about 248,000 in sales, followed closely by Daimler AG's (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz brand. Lexus was third.

Through July this year, Mercedes-Benz held the lead at 159,412 in U.S. sales, followed by BMW at 147,801 and Lexus at 126,367.

Cadillac's U.S. sales this year have fallen behind Volkswagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE) Audi brand, which through July reported U.S. sales of 76,865.

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